A whistleblowing investigator who went public about a dysfunctional witness protection programme has been fired for whistleblowing.

Darrell Whitman put his job as an investigator for the federal Whistleblower Protection Programme on the line to claim that the agency had failed to defend workers who reported illegal activity and corporate safety infringements in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He went public and was interviewed by the investigations unit of NBC's Bay Area station in May after he had become increasingly worried about the threat to public safety.

He'd exhausted all internal channels to address the problem, Whitman said, including contacting the heads of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, who oversee the programme) and the US Secretary of Labour.

The letter announcing his termination said Whitman had been fired for six separate reasons including "lack of candour during an investigatory meeting" and "unauthorised release of government documents".

Speaking to NBC, Whitman said:

They got rid of the squeaky wheel.

I was going to report what I thought to be violations of law and policy... They were going to have to answer to those reports and they didn’t like that.

OSHA declined to comment on the case to NBC but said it was working to improve the existing whistleblower protection programme.

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